Taming the cowboy: Early Danish film theory, 1910-1940

Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

Abstract

The article describes the development of early Danish film criticism and film theory from the nascent critical debates around 1910 until the substantial film-theoretical publications in the late thirties. During the 1910s, the first debates took place, predominantly in popular journals and newspapers, whereas in the 1920s, the first book-length approaches to film appeared, and the initial advances of the state towards film were made. Finally, acknowledging a diminished Danish film industry, the discourse around film during the 1930s changes from a popular and industrial coverage to a noteworthy defense of the artistic values of film. This article demonstrates how the slow theoretical development of the discourse film as art connects with a diminishing film industry and a progression towards a European small-state subsidy system for film production. In the process of recognition of film, another noteworthy discourse made a significant impact: film as education paved the way for the taming of a wild and unrestrained medium. These two discourses facilitated film in order to single out as an independent medium differentiated from especially theatre and literature. The main discourse film as entertainment is, then, slowly supplemented by two competing discourses in close connection to a general national discourse.
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Details

The article describes the development of early Danish film criticism and film theory from the nascent critical debates around 1910 until the substantial film-theoretical publications in the late thirties. During the 1910s, the first debates took place, predominantly in popular journals and newspapers, whereas in the 1920s, the first book-length approaches to film appeared, and the initial advances of the state towards film were made. Finally, acknowledging a diminished Danish film industry, the discourse around film during the 1930s changes from a popular and industrial coverage to a noteworthy defense of the artistic values of film. This article demonstrates how the slow theoretical development of the discourse film as art connects with a diminishing film industry and a progression towards a European small-state subsidy system for film production. In the process of recognition of film, another noteworthy discourse made a significant impact: film as education paved the way for the taming of a wild and unrestrained medium. These two discourses facilitated film in order to single out as an independent medium differentiated from especially theatre and literature. The main discourse film as entertainment is, then, slowly supplemented by two competing discourses in close connection to a general national discourse.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Volume36
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)156-174
Number of pages19
ISSN0143-9685
DOI
StatePublished - Apr 2016

    Keywords

  • Film theory, Danish film industry, small-state subsidy system, film criticism
ID: 207793163